American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism

Neuregulin improves response to glucose tolerance test in control and diabetic rats.

PMID 26714846


Neuregulin (NRG) is an EGF-related growth factor that binds to the tyrosine kinase receptors ErbB3 and ErbB4, thus inducing tissue development and muscle glucose utilization during contraction. Here, we analyzed whether NRG has systemic effects regulating glycemia in control and type 2 diabetic rats. To this end, recombinant NRG (rNRG) was injected into Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats and their respective lean littermates 15 min before a glucose tolerance test (GTT) was performed. rNRG enhanced glucose tolerance without promoting the activation of the insulin receptor (IR) or insulin receptor substrates (IRS) in muscle and liver. However, in control rats, rNRG induced the phosphorylation of protein kinase B (PKB) and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) in liver but not in muscle. In liver, rNRG increased ErbB3 tyrosine phosphorylation and its binding to phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), thus indicating that rNRG activates the ErbB3/PI3K/PKB signaling pathway. rNRG increased glycogen content in liver but not in muscle. rNRG also increased the content of fructose-2,6-bisphosphate (Fru-2,6-P2), an activator of hepatic glycolysis, and lactate in liver but not in muscle. Increases in lactate were abrogated by wortmannin, a PI3K inhibitor, in incubated hepatocytes. The liver of ZDF rats showed a reduced content of ErbB3 receptors, entailing a minor stimulation of the rNRG-induced PKB/GSK-3 cascade and resulting in unaltered hepatic glycogen content. Nonetheless, rNRG increased hepatic Fru-2,6-P2 and augmented lactate both in liver and in plasma of diabetic rats. As a whole, rNRG improved response to the GTT in both control and diabetic rats by enhancing hepatic glucose utilization.